Monday, November 7, 2016

Elections and the ‘Blockade’

Elections and the 'Blockade' / 14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco

14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco, Camaguey, 6 November 2016 — I met a man
who, when his wife left him, carried on endlessly about the contempt he
felt for her, constantly berating her, although he couldn't stop talking
about her: she was a prostitute, a liar, a thief and all sorts of other
despicable things that came from his mouth. Such was the hatred he felt
for this person that, a little while later, he reconciled with her.

Something similar has happened with the official Cuban press in recent
weeks. The campaign has developed as never before against the United
States "blockade" (as the Cuban government insists on calling the
embargo), and the detailed attention to the upcoming US elections takes
us back to the sixties with its bitter rancor. Primetime Cuban
Television News spends about 25 minutes out of every 30 on these two
topics. It is a paroxysm of unnerving propaganda.

The US government's abstention on the vote to condemn the embargo in the
United Nations General Assembly surprised everyone, at a time when
Barack Obama was being presented as no longer a "good president." The
respect and admiration with which he was referred to during his visit to
Cuba had collapsed, since some official interpreted his peaceful
intentions as a new formula for destroying the Cuban Revolution.

Measure after measure taken by Obama – many of them officially
recognized as positive – have been useless in developing a good
understanding between the two systems. There is always a "but" to give a
discordant note and suggest "the black intentions of imperialism to
destroy our fair, equitable and progressive system."

It is true that the world is against the embargo. What is not explained
to the Cuban people is that on questions of international politics,
things work this way: there are basic principles of international order
that obliges governments, not at all sympathetic to our system, to
challenge the financial embargo against Cuba.

Nor is it explained to the ordinary Cuban that the fateful embargo is a
law. And in that country not even presidents can abolish laws at the
stroke of a pen. In totalitarian regimes, yes they can, because as
Machiavelli said, the Prince is above the law. In the United States the
legislation that established the embargo was strengthened by the
Helms-Burton Act in March of 1996, when President Bill Clinton signed it
due to the downing of the two civilian Brothers to the Rescue planes: a
crime very similar, although on a smaller scale, to the downing of the
Barbados plane, Flight 455.

The embargo and the Cuban Adjustment Act will continue to patiently
absorb the Cuban nation toward an annexation as reviled in the same
measure as, in the minds of the young people on the island, the dream
grows of flying to other lands where they can develop fully and reach a
standard of living superior to the one this country offers them. A
government that clings to stagnation not only ceases to be
revolutionary, but is going backwards in time, because global
development of all the nations of the world is a marathon race; and when
a nation comes to a halt, for whatever reason, it goes to the back of
the line: see North Korea.

Nor do they explain to the Cuban people the causes of the embargo and
the requirements that might lead to its abolishment. Perhaps that is why
there is such a reluctance to provide unlimited internet in homes and
why a decree is being developed to allow the prosecution of independent

The other issue obsessed about in Cuban TV's broadcasts on international
news, is the election in the United States. The Roundtable show is
exclusively devoted to this subject. Reinaldo Taladrid and Randy Alonso
paint with a broad brush, discrediting both the main candidates. Clinton
has a private server and Trump fondled a girl in an elevator in one of
his multimillion dollar buildings and has mocked the female gender like
one of the most depraved chauvinists. Yes, politics is dirty. But that
is the result of freedom of the press! It is better to know even the
wart on the left foot of the person who leads us, than to believe in a
crystal urn like the most illustrious of the saints.

Randy and Taladrid even presented a red and blue map on the Roundtable
program. The central states in red tend toward Trump; those on the east
and west coasts are certain for Clinton. There is no lack of criticism
for the system of electoral votes. What is not said is that the system
has been respected in the United State Constitution because it was
created by the founding fathers, and on only three occasions – two of
them in the 19th century – has it not coincided with the popular vote.
Nor is it said that a president, no matter how good and effective he or
she is, only has the right to be reelected one time, for a maximum of
eight years at the head of the government.

But the question that arises is this: Why such a close following of US
politics when in Cuba there aren't even presidential candidates, there
are no direct elections, there are no journalists digging into the
private lives of the leaders – a very important question when evaluating
their moral and human values?

Why waste hours of radio and TV time if we are convinced that, whether
Trump wins or Clinton wins, the neighbor to the north will continue the
"blockade," the Cuban Adjustment Act, the Guantanamo Naval Base, the
Radio and TV Marti broadcasts, and many more measures as long as Cuba
doesn't respect the right to dissent, to create opposition parties and
free trade unions, to have direct presidential elections and, above all,
the individual economic empowerment of its citizenry?

A lot of paper and ink has been spent on this side projecting the caged
country of 2030. This Cuban megaproject that predicts so many beautiful
dreams, perhaps lacks, among others, two basic aspects impossible to
evaluate: what percentage of the population living on the island will be
under sixty, and how many young Cubans will have crossed the Florida
Straits by 2030?

I am afraid, because I am not an annexationist*, that what could happen
to us could be what happened to the man at the beginning of this
article. Time will have the last word.

*Translator's note: An "annexationist" in this context, is someone who
wants Cuba to become a part of the United States – a charge frequently
lodged by the government against its opponents.

Source: Elections and the 'Blockade' / 14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco –
Translating Cuba -

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